First and foremost, I love the Rams. I watch the games, I read the blogs, official site, Sando, and even that crap the Post Dispatch prints. I wear the jersey and hat, I had PSLs (before I moved). I freaking love the Rams. I live and die with them. This is not dissimilar in attitude of 99% of you guys.
This is where it gets tricky for me: Sport in general, and the NFL specifically, serve the purpose of escapism. You have a crappy day at work, your car is making a weird noise, your girlfriend wants you to go to that wedding of her friend who you hate. I find myself in those uncomfortable, all-too-depressing, sobering moments where my only mental escape from the stark and harsh reality of actual life is standing in the shower and wondering to myself "How quickly will Jerome Morgan get into the CB rotation if Fletcher's knee isn't 100% at the start of training camp?".
To me, the Rams don't represent any type of tangible reality. The NFL as played out on Sunday's in the fall, and through the free agent period, draft etc are a masculine soap opera. We know the characters and the drama unfolds before us. We latch onto our favorites and overflow with foolish nervous anxiety and optimism. I can be bossed around at work, be made to pay my taxes or a traffic ticket, but the time I spend with the Rams is mine, and mine alone.
The reason I presently single out a poster like Ramchop (who is a edpjr reincarnate) is not because I have any sort of personal vendetta, or disagree with any voice of dissent. I accept dissenting voices, and believe they are the basis for healthy and interesting conversation. I take issue with those of us who approach discussion of our beloved Rams with the single-minded ethos of being realistic in our hopes and expectations. To see earnest, positive, passionate fans endure ire and ridicule on the pages of TST makes my world of escapist fanhood shatter.
I applaud the work of VanRam, 3k, Coach, StlCardfang, ramrod, etc.. Most of the guys who make this place great present a level of respectful professionalism, constructive criticism, and optimism. In football terms, these guys are more like Herm Edwards ("We CAN BUILD on this!") than Denny Green ("You wanna crown 'em? Give 'em a damn crown?!").
I refuse to be told to be "realistic" about the team that gets my pigskin juices flowing. In my mind, there's no reason to think that Bradford can't be ROY or for Animal Jr to double last year's stellar output. I think Donnie Avery could be the next Marvin Harrison. I think Chris Long will put it all together. I think a Hank Fraley will do a great job when we need him to fill in at C in week 10. I think Pat Shurmur will learn from his mistakes last year, and devise a better playbook, and a more balanced playcalling strategy. I think Spags could be coach of the year if we win 8 or 9 games, and I think we can win freaking 8 or 9 games!
I think all of these things because I'm a fan. Never played in the NFL, never coached, not even a waterboy. I'm a fan who channels all of my frustration, hope, integrity, ambition, anticipation, confidence, and pie-in-the-sky dreams onto the backs of those wearing the Rams uniform. They could go 0-15, and because I rely on these young men to keep my own sanity, I will watch the opening kickoff of week 17 thinking we have a chance.
I'll keep rooting for the Rams and processing their every game, camp and roster move until it's not fun anymore. But some of the crappiest NFL seasons on record have slid through St. Louis in the last few years, and I still haven't wavered. That's because I approach every season and off-season with little more than a daydream glimmer of aspiration. Those jerks wearing the blue & gold are already of a divine form of catharsis. Winning is just going to make it that much better.
So, tell me to be a better speller, make better jokes, know more about zone blitzing schemes, or underneath routes. But don't tell me or anyone else to view our gridiron heroes with cynical-tinted glasses. There's far too much actual real life bullshit to deal with. From where I sit, I see us winning games, selling out the dome, and returning to glory. There's not a goddamn person who can tell me that's not realistic.